Saturday, October 16, 2021

SHREDDED BEEF SANDWICHES WITH CARAMELIZED ONIONS & PEPERONCINI

This sandwich makes a delicious dinner accompanied with a salad or soup. There is enough left over for another couple of dinners or lunches. The entire house had the amazing aroma of that chuck roast slowly cooking in my oven for hours.  You can use a slow-cooker, but brown the meat first.




2 T avocado or olive oil, divided
2 large yellow onions, cut in half and sliced
½ to 4 lb chuck or rump roast trimmed of excess fat
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups beef broth
1 T liquid beef bouillon concentrate
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 T fresh oregano sprigs or freeze-dried
4 cloves garlic, cut in half
Provolone cheese, sliced
Golden peperoncini in a jar with juice
Buttered and toasted Italian hoagie rolls

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat one tablespoon of the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions, for about 20 minutes until caramelized; stirring often.
Remove and set aside in a bowl and cover.

Season the roast on both sides with salt and pepper.
To the same pot, add the other tablespoon of oil and brown the roast on both sides.

When brown, add the beef broth, beef concentrate, rosemary, oregano, garlic, and juice from the ½ the jar of peperoncini.
Cover with a lid and bake in a 275 degree F oven for 6 hours.

Remove from oven and carefully transfer roast to a cutting board.
Cut away the string on the roast and let cool a few minutes.

While roast is cooling, pour the beef broth from the pot through a fine mesh strainer into a saucepan. Keep warm on the stove.

Using two forks, shred the beef completely and place in a medium saucepan and keep warm on the stove. Discard any fat still left on the roast.

To Assemble
Place a generous amount of shredded beef on the bottoms of the toasted rolls.
Add some of the caramelized onions.
Top with cheese and place under a broiler for just a couple of minutes; long enough to melt the cheese.
Top with a few peperoncini, trimmed of stems.
Serve with individual small bowls of the beef juice for dipping the sandwiches.

Serves 6 to 8

Thursday, August 12, 2021

SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA

I prefer spaghetti carbonara made with pancetta. If you are a purist, make it with guanciale (pork cheeks). Authentic spaghetti alla carbonara does not contain cream. The creaminess comes from the eggs and cheese. Grate the cheeses, slice the shallots and garlic first and set them aside on a cutting board. This was my son Brandon’s favorite. We lived near an Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C. and he always ordered this when we ate there. Why go to a restaurant for this when you can make it to perfection at home?




8 oz pancetta or guanciale, diced
2 T olive oil or avocado oil
2 T unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ cup dry white wine

1 lb spaghetti
3 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 t red pepper flakes
1 T chopped Italian parsley
1 T chopped fresh basil
Thinly shaved Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese, for garnish

In a large skillet that is big enough to hold the cooked pasta, cook the pancetta or guanciale until crisp.
Pour out most of the fat and add the olive oil and butter; sauté the shallots for about 2 minutes.
Add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up the flavorful brown particles from the bacon. 
Turn off the heat and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook 7 to 8 minutes, until al dente. 
Drain the spaghetti, but save 1 cup of the pasta water.

While the pasta is cooking, put the eggs and yolks into a mixing bowl. 
Add half of the grated cheeses and season to taste with black pepper and red pepper flakes. Whisk until well combined. 
Return the skillet with bacon mixture to low heat. 
Add the hot drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for a couple of minutes to incorporate.

Remove the skillet from the burner and pour the egg-cheese mixture onto the pasta, tossing quickly and thoroughly, 
which will gently cook the eggs using the heat of the pasta.
Return the skillet to low heat and toss another minute.
Add some of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce.
Add the chopped parsley, basil, and garnish with some shaved cheese and serve.

Serves 4

Monday, August 2, 2021

FARFALLE PASTA SALAD

Farfalle (butterflies or bowties) are one of my favorite pasta types.  Serve with grilled salmon or chicken. . .even as a complete entree.


1 lb farfalle pasta or your favorite
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup toasted pine nuts (toast in a dry skillet)
¼ cup chopped black Italian olives or kalamata
¼ cup sliced sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
1 T drained capers
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed, cored, and thinly sliced
¼ cup fennel fronds, chopped
2 T chopped basil
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the vinegar, olive oil, pine nuts, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, lemon zest and juice.
Mix together to combine.
Add the pasta, fennel, fennel fronds, basil, and parsley.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Add the grated cheese, gently mix to combine.

Serves 4 to 6


Tuesday, July 27, 2021

PENNE WITH ITALIAN SAUSAGE SAUCE

In my Italian-American cookbook, I make serve this Italian Sausage Sauce over pappardelle pasta.  I love the way the sauce gets into the rigatoni, and now this is my favorite pasta with this sauce.


1 lb mild or hot Italian sausages, about 5 links
1 cup good dry Italian white wine, such as Pinot Grigio, divided
2 T olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 (28-oz) cans whole peeled Italian tomatoes
1 t freeze-dried or dried oregano
1 t minced fresh basil or freeze-dried basil
1 t red pepper flakes, optional
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 lb penne rigate pasta
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese

Remove sausage from casings and place in a large bowl.
Pour in some of the white wine and crush with hands until sausage is in small pieces.
The wine makes it easier to break up the sausage.

Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add garlic and sauté another minute.

Add the sausages and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking up pieces with a wooden spoon.
Add the rest of the wine and cook until wine has mostly evaporated.

In the same large bowl, pour in the tomatoes and hand-crush them, removing the hard center cores. Alternatively, use an immersion blender to chop the tomatoes.

Add the crushed tomatoes to the pot along with the oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer 30 minutes.

Boil the pasta in salted water for about 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente.
Drain the pasta and pour back into the pot.
Add a couple ladles of the sausage sauce and toss.
Spoon into warm pasta bowls and add a little more sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Serves 4


LEMON RICOTTA CHEESECAKE

This delicious cheesecake is light because of the ricotta cheese and creamy because of the cream cheese. There is no need to bake it in a water bath and you can put all of the cake ingredients into a food processor, almost all at once. It comes out perfect every time. This is a wonderful dessert to serve after a Sunday dinner.


2 (15 oz) containers whole milk ricotta cheese
1 T unsalted butter, slightly softened             
1 T sugar
2 T unseasoned dry breadcrumbs or matzo meal
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature, cut into cubes
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour 
3 T fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of one medium lemon
2 t pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt or kosher salt

Put ricotta in a large fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and let drain for 30 minutes.
Every once in a while, gently press the ricotta with a large spoon to help release the liquid.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter an 8 to 9-inch springform cake pan.

Mix the 1 tablespoon of sugar and breadcrumbs in a small bowl; sprinkle over
buttered pan bottom to coat. Tap out excess crumbs.

Spoon ricotta into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade and purée for a few seconds.
Add cream cheese and eggs and purée a few more seconds.
Add the remaining ingredients and purée, scraping down the sides occasionally, until smooth. 

Scrape batter into the prepared pan.
Place on a baking sheet and bake cheesecake until golden brown and just set, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Transfer to a rack and let cool in pan.
Refrigerate uncovered until cool, about 4 hours.

Loosen cake by running a table knife around the edges.
Remove the cake pan sides and place on a serving plate.
You can also use a large thin spatula to remove the entire cake from the bottom of the cake pan and place on a serving plate.

Dust with powdered sugar and cut into wedges.

Serves 8

 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

ITALIAN CHOPPED SALAD

This is one of my favorite salads. Sometimes this salad is on the menu in a pizza restaurant.  Add whatever you like to make it your own. 




Garlic-Parmigiano Salad Dressing
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 T minced shallot
¼ cup red or white wine vinegar
2 T fresh lemon juice
1 t dry mustard
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 t freeze-dried or dried oregano 
2 t freeze-dried or dried basil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad
1 15-oz can chickpeas (garbanzos), rinsed and drained
2 heads Romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
2 cups coarsely chopped arugula or spring mix
3 oz Sopressata or Calabrese salami
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
6 pepperoncini, stems removed 
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup pitted black Italian olives
¼ cup green olives, in a jar
8 oz shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for garnish


Place the salad dressing ingredients in a jar fitted with a lid and shake to combine.

Place the chickpeas in a bowl and pour about 2 tablespoons of the salad dressing over to marinate for 30 minutes.

Store dressing and chickpeas in the refrigerator until ready to dress the salad.

On a large cutting board pile up the lettuces and chop until bite-size pieces.
Transfer to a large salad bowl.
Do the same with the salami, sun-dried tomatoes, pepperoncini, onion slices, olives and mozzarella.
Chop through them all, until bite-size pieces.

Transfer to a large salad bowl, add toss with some of the Garlic-Parmigiano Salad Dressing.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Top with some of the garbanzo beans and sprinkle with the Parmigiano and serve.

You will have more salad dressing for another salad or two.

Serves 4